Senate elections coming to Saskatchewan
When Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed Bert Brown to the Senate, Brown became the second elected "Senator-in-waiting" appointed to the Red Chamber. The first was Stan Waters, who was reluctantly appointed by Brian Mulroney after winning an election.
With Senate elections in Alberta proving to be a modest success -- to date, only two elected Senators have been appointed, and in 2004 20% of Albertans chose to spoil their Senatorial ballot -- it was only a matter of time before Senate elections came to other provinces.
British Columbia followed Alberta's lead in 1997, although it has yet to hold a single Senatorial election. As of this fall, the Land of Living Skies is apparently going to become the third.
"I have always found it troubling that our Senate has been appointed rather than elected," said Saskatchewan party MLA, Justice Minister and Attorney General. "So when the opportunity started to manifest itself that we could have the potential for elected senators without going through full constitutional reform, I thought 'this is a good idea.' Our premier thought it was a good idea, so we started to go forward with it."
This follows a bill introduced by Harper that would implement the system on a federal basis -- a bill that has seemingly made little progress despite significant public support.
Naturally, there are those who don't like the idea of reforming Canada's aristocratic branch of government. In particular, Liberal leader Stephane Dion dismissed the bill as "completely, completely irresponsible."
For their own part, the NDP want to outright abolish the Senate -- a move that would actually come with some rather frightening implications.
If resistance to Senate reform continues to be so fierce, the only way to accomplish this worthy and necessary goal may be province-by-province.
The province of Saskatchewan should be applauded for making this bold move. The opportunity to elect Senators in Saskatchewan is as overdue as anywhere else in the country (exempting, naturally, Alberta).